This was the strong statement of Akbayan Youth against Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao on Friday as it recalled the shooting that happened in a gay club in Orlando in the United States last June 12. The shooting claimed 49 lives, many of which were members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] community.
The statement was released in commemoration of June as LGBT Pride Month.
According to the youth group, the celebrated boxer is guilty of committing hate speech against the LGBT that could potentially incite violence among his many supporters.
Early this year, Pacquiao came under fire when he called gays as “worse than animals” in an interview during the campaign for his bid to the Senate. Pacquiao also posted on his Instagram account a quote from Letivicus that prescribes that gays “should be put to death”. The said post has long been deleted after receiving flak from the online community.
Yesha Tolentino, Akbayan Youth’s spokesperson for LGBT concerns, claimed that Pacquiao’s “homophobic public pronouncements are loading the guns that will kill gays and lesbians”. She also said that sooner or later, Pacquiao’s hate speech will inspire others to take a violent stance against people who identify as LGBT.
The Philippines has one of the worst records of violence against the LGBT community, according to several human rights watch organizations. Since 2008, there have been at least 28 recorded murders of Filipino transgenders.
One of the most high-profile cases was of Jennifer Laude, murdered by a US Marine who was part of Oplan Balikatan between the US and Philippine governments. A few weeks after Laude’s death, a 55-year old transwoman was also found dead in her home in Quezon Province.
“The massacre of LGBT does not happen in a vacuum. It is borne out of a culture with deep-seated prejudice against us”, she further explained. “Pacquiao’s hate speech propagates that culture”.
Passage of Anti-Discrimination Bill sought
Akbayan Youth said that the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill is long overdue, citing numerous cases of discrimination in schools, workplace and the barangays.
The youth organization argued that the said bill does not grant special rights to members of the LGBT but secures existing human rights as protected by the constitution and by numerous international treaties.
“We just want to live in a country that does not institutionalize hate and discrimination”, Tolentino lamented. “A strong anti-discrimination law will contribute to a culture that blankets everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, to live in peace and security”, she furthered.
Fight homophobia everywhere
Akbayan Youth also urged its fellow Filipinos to “fight homophobia everyday: in small settings, on social media, in the family, at school and at work”.
“We must build a future where everyone can live and love freely”, Tolentino concluded.